Engineering Students from Across Ontario Meet for the ESSCO AGM Conference

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

As I packed my bags to say goodbye to what had been my home for four days and three nights, I struggled to believe that it was all over. For most of the five amazing delegates from Waterloo A-Society, this was our very first engineering conference. We dived in headfirst with a blurry vision of what was ahead, but we were confident that it would be a positive and rewarding experience.

The conference was held in Waterloo and titled ESSCO AGM, which stands for Engineering Student Societies’ Council of Ontario Annual General Meeting. ESSCO is the overarching student society for sixteen different engineering societies across Ontario. The University of Waterloo is well represented in ESSCO with three of the four executive positions currently held by Waterloo engineering students. ESSCO strives to provide representation across the participating schools to ultimately improve engineering student lives. With this great big vision on hand, the conference represents a critical step towards making it all happen.

The conference was kicked off with a networking session involving executives and delegates from the over thirteen different engineering societies across Ontario. The diversity of attendees brought forth an impressive wealth of firsthand knowledge and experience. It was very uplifting to be in the presence of so many passionate student leaders. Collectively, this abundance of spirit and energy channeled an incredible level of positivity, openness, and encouragement for everyone involved.

With the welcoming atmosphere, there was no doubt that the conference would bring a weekend full of excitement. But even more important, the networking session laid down the foundation for a better understanding of how everyone fit into the bigger picture.

The day after the networking session showcased presentations from each participating school on one thing that their engineering society does well. This event was both functionally and symbolically important as it demonstrated that each school is unique and can offer ideas and best practices to everyone else.

As the presentations were made, it became evident that many other schools had significantly less engineering student enrollment than the University of Waterloo. This means many of the things taken for granted by Waterloo engineering students were simply not achievable for many other schools. Waterloo students should feel incredibly fortunate to have such a large student base that allows so much to be possible.

As the conference moved into full swing, a large number of sessions were scheduled which proved to be both engaging and informative. These sessions covered a large variety of topics including Women in Engineering initiatives, managing society finances, building cohesive teams, running effective meetings, and networking strategies. Discussions were carried out about the relevance and application of the material on a personal, school-wide and provincial level.

As the ideas flowed, it became very clear that this type of cross-school discussion and collaboration was at the very heart of the conference and ESSCO itself. Everyone is looking for new ideas and ways to improve, and this is where it all happens.

As the conference came to a close, new ESSCO executive members were elected to serve, represent, and lead the way for continuing ESSCO’s mission. An inspiring keynote presentation was made by Mike McCauley, co-founder of BufferBox and a former ESSCO member, about his journeys and the importance of following your passion. And of course, being a conference in Waterloo, it would not have been complete without a showing of The Tool.

With so many events packed tightly into just a few days, the conference had ended in no time. As I packed my bags and said goodbye, I began to collect my thoughts and reflect upon the preceding days. Everything I felt could be summarized into this: I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to attend this conference. There was also no doubt in my mind that the other delegates felt the same way.

In the end, I came out of this conference knowing so much more about the practices of engineering societies outside of Waterloo, along with many ideas that can be brought back. I also gained a clearer vision of the big picture and where everyone fits. But most important of all, I emerged from the conference even more proud to be a Waterloo Engineering student.

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